Time passes and life stirs in the mud.
Her body lifts. An arm, a leg; they squelch back into place;
A bright eye bobs from a blackbird’s nest, sucked into its socket.
Blood raises like a curtain; and swerves back to the pump.
She flaps uncertainly.
And reaches for the sun once more.
‘I love you!’ she cries.
And every window opens as she goes by.
They stare at her from shops and homes and buses.
Past trees and granite soldiers,
And grimy paper swirling in the wind,
She loops and circles.
New love giving new life.
‘I love you! I love you! she cries once more.
And, as if by some unrealistic miracle, he springs out of nowhere, catches her and says, “I’m not entirely indifferent to you myself”.
I wrote this in response to the suggestions I had for I love you! which I posted on Saturday. The last line is by Peter Wells at Counting Ducks
Picture via Creative Commons, courtesy of https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2357/2511306490_3173996d85_b.
I was going to see an old friend of mine this morning, but last night his wife phoned me to say he had died.
Bob’s death was a long time coming, he had been attacked by a virus which reduced his body to a wreck, but left his brain as sharp as ever. Imagine being in a prison like that.
I knew him since we were teenagers in the 70s. I always thought he was like Ritchie in Happy Days. Ritchie with a very dry sense of humour and an ability to neck a pint in one easy go. He was best mates with my boyfriend and we all hung out together. We went to see the first Star Wars film together, and laughed all the way home on the bus to his student house in Acocks Green listening to some bloke in a Brummie accent giving a low down of the plot. I can’t write it down. It doesn’t work on paper, 40 years later.
We all went to America together too, in 1980 on a Freddie Laker bargain flight. Bob nearly fell down the Grand Canyon and then got taken in hand by some weird Californian girl on a greyhound bus, whose entire luggage was a child’s travelling cot, and who kept announcing she was going to get pregnant by artificial insemination. And I remember on some plane trip during that journey, when all the other passengers were either chucking up in sick bags or looking with fierce concentration out of the window, because the turbulence was something terrible, Bob teaching me how to sing Paddy McGinty’s Goat. I wrote down the words. I must go and look for them.
And then of course, we grew up, and Bob found Eve (or rather, she found him, lucky boy) and they got married and they had two kids, and lived very happily, and I heard from them at Christmases.
A few years ago, Bob came to see me, right out of the blue. He was staggering slightly, but it was nothing serious, it was a hangover from him getting pneumonia and he’d be as right as ninepence in a few months.
He didn’t get better. He just got worse. Eve and their sons had to watch him being taken away from them piece by piece. They had to struggle with incompetent bureaucratic twits to get the help they needed, and finally he had to go into a nursing home. I visited him, not a quarter as often as I should have done, and it didn’t matter that he couldn’t speak any more, we could still communicate; we still, unbelievably, had a laugh.
I’ve been meaning to see him for the last few months, but, I suppose, I was too scared to go. I didn’t want to see what new low he’d been brought to. But Eve said he was getting worse, so I arranged to see him today.
And it’s too late. He’s gone. And all the jokes we shared are gone too. So, here’s to you, Bob. It was really, really nice knowing you. And I’ve still got the dog biscuit you gave me for my 18th birthday.
There is one more thing I want to say. If I am ever incapable of looking after myself, or standing up for my rights, I want Eve in my corner. She is one strong woman. She didn’t just stick with Bob all the way through those nightmare last years, she fought for him every single inch of the way. She didn’t shout, she didn’t threaten, but by God, she made sure Bob got the best care that could possibly be got. They loved each other to the very last second. They still love each other. And that’s something no stupid virus can take away.
On Friday I posted a newspaper cutting about a guy who died while at work and none of his colleagues noticed for five days.
This morning I woke up and thought wtf?
The story claimed that a man called George Turklebaum, a proof-reader, had died at his desk on a Monday morning, and it took until Saturday morning before a cleaner tapped him on the shoulder and then maybe wished she hadn’t.
I mean, really, you’d have to be Mr Magoo with a heavy cold not to notice somebody in your office had been dead for a week. So, in the best traditions of investigative journalism, I went to NewYork turned to Mr Google.
Luckily I didn’t have too far to look. Those nice people at Snopes.com who specialise in debunking urban myths, had got there before me. According to them, the story is a complete hoax, first surfacing in America’s Weekly World News which is well respected for its considered take on global events.
The clipping I posted came from the Sunday Mercury in Birmingham, printed on December 17, 2000, (that’s Birmingham as in the home of Noddy Holder, Ozzy Osbourne and Joe Chamberlain, not Birmingham, Alabama), but the story is about a bloke in New York.
The Sunday Mercury claim they got the story from an NY radio station, but, according to Snopes, no newspapers in New York carried the story, and the Medical Examiner’s office knew nothing about the case. And there was nobody on the Social Security Death Index by the name of Turklebaum.
So there you go. Never believe everything you read in newspapers. Unless, of course, you agree with it.
Pictures courtesy of Creative Commons, via:
Edie liked to play Scrabble with her friend Bunny. Edie was 93 and Bunny was 97. Every Tuesday they got together, drank tea, ate cake, gossiped and played Scrabble. Bunny always won. She knew all the two-letter words off by heart; words such as jo and xu and za. Edie would have liked to have won, just once. But she knew that was never going to happen. Then Bunny died, quite suddenly, in the early hours of a Monday morning. Bunny’s daughter Fran came to break the news.
‘Shall we play Scrabble?’ said Edie. She didn’t know what else to do. She got out the cake she had made for Bunny, and poured the tea. They sat down and Edie began to win. She put a seven-letter word down. She scored 108 with a crafty placement of a j and a z on a triple word score. She thought of how Bunny would react at the news. Then she put her rack of letters on the table. ‘I’m fed up with this,’ she said.